With the end of 2017 approaching, NAHB’s Eye on Housing is reviewing the posts that attracted the most readers over the last year. In March, Paul Emrath examined green building practices.
On average, single-family builders use 10.2 different green products or practices, and 22 percent always or almost always have their homes certified to a green standard, according to a recent NAHB survey.
The survey consisted of special questions on the January survey for the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. A total of 337 single-family builders responded to these questions, one of which asked if builders commonly used any of 21 specific green products and practices on homes they built during the past year. The list of 21 was drawn primarily from the major sections of the National Green Building Standard (NGBS).
Energy efficient windows ranked at the top of the list, commonly used by 95 percent of the builders, followed by high efficiency HVAC systems (at 92 percent). On average builders reported commonly using 10.2 of the green products and practices on the list.
The survey question also gave builders options to 1) write-in any other green features they may be using and 2) specifically check if they used none of the green products or practices on the list. Thirteen percent of builders wrote in other green products/practices, mostly slight variations of the 21 already provided on the list. Every builder who responded reported using at least one green product or practice.
In addition to the NGBS, builders can have single-family homes certified to a green standard such as ENERGY STAR®, LEED, and programs run by State or local jurisdictions. NAHB policy supports all green programs like these, as long as they remain voluntary. As mentioned above, 22 percent of single-family builders always or almost always have their homes certified to one of the green standards. At the other end of the spectrum, 48 percent never or almost never have their homes certified.
Not surprisingly, the number of green products and practices a builder uses is positively correlated with the tendency to have homes certified to the NGBS or other green standard, but the differences might not be as drastic as you’d guess. While builders who always or almost always have their homes certified to a green standard on average use 11.9 of the green products or practices, builders who never or almost never have their homes certified still use 9.1 of them.
This suggests that the homes of many more builders might be able to qualify for a green certification, especially the NGBS, with relatively minor changes to the builders’ current practices.